West Bromwich Albion face title contenders Manchester United on Sunday, after various consecutive poor results.
After United’s 9-0 (yes 9-0) thrashing of Southampton at the end of January, combined with our leakiest defence in the league, I doubt anyone’s particularly looking forward to this one.
While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time at United hasn’t always been plain sailing, things seem to be looking up in the Red side of Manchester. United have the highest number of goals in the Premier League this season, often playing attractive and expansive football.
On Tuesday, they progressed into the Quarter-Finals of the FA Cup, with a 1-0 win at home to West Ham. Continuing their good form in the league will be vital against us, in an attempt to close the gap on the league-leaders Manchester City.
Here’s an overview of our opponents: Manchester United.
When mentioning key Manchester United players, it’s hard to look past Bruno Fernandes. The midfielder has racked up 13 goals already this season, just over a goal every two games, alongside nine assists in the League. As arguably Man United’s key playmaking threat, we will need to try and find a way of neutralising the clear threats he poses.
Next, right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka provides another key threat for the Red Devils. Giving a clear attacking option down the right-hand side, Wan-Bissaka has scored two goals and provided two assists so far this season. Defensively, he has also been part of eight clean sheets.
Moving to the centre of United’s defence, Harry Maguire is our next key man to focus on. After his £87 million move from Leicester City in 2017, Maguire has established himself as vital in the centre of United’s defence. Maguire has started 23 games this season in the league, contributing to eight clean sheets. The Englishman offers a threat aerially going forward too, scoring two goals so far this season.
Finally, arguably United’s most recognisable face, Marcus Rashford is another key player to watch. Rashford has been contributing positively both on and off the pitch so far this season, after his successful free school meals campaign earlier this year. Eight goals and six assists this season already mean the striker is clearly someone to keep an eye on for the Baggies defenders.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tends to opt for a relatively attacking shape while in position, due to his extensive attacking options. On paper, the strongest United XI should be too strong for us, but we have performed well against top teams this season.
Manchester United currently sit in second, five points behind the league leaders Man City. City have a game in hand on United, so a win against a struggling West Brom is vital for United to keep the pressure on their rivals at the top of the table.
Our most recent game against United was decided by a controversial Fernandes penalty, which was retaken as VAR adjudged Johnstone to have come off his line too early.
Another memorable game against United in recent years came in 2013, where Alex Ferguson’s last game in charge of United resulted in a 5-5 draw at the Hawthorns.
Overall, out of 114 meetings between the teams, United have won 52 times, compared with West Brom’s 36 wins.